If Jan Ho, executive director of Ngee Soon Jewellery, has her way, having two staff members perform daily manual stocktake (sometimes three if there is a discrepancy in numbers) will soon be a thing of the past.

The jeweller is now considering radio-frequency identification (RFID) to better manage inventory and reduce manpower needs. It is one of over 110 local retailers that have signed up with the Technology Adoption Programme (TAP) - an initiative by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) to make technology more available and accessible for local companies, especially SMEs.

"We were looking for ways to increase our productivity and improve our work flow and processes. TAP understood our needs and was able to introduce relevant technologies.

"With RFID, only one staff will be required to do manual stocktake and then check his number against that derived by the system. This enables us to reduce manpower needs for daily stocktake by 50 per cent, and also increases security of our high-value items," Ms Ho told BT.

TAP - a $51 million-programme first unveiled in Budget 2013 - was officially launched yesterday, alongside the inking of two pacts that seek to boost productivity in the retail sector using technology.

The first was a Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) between A*Star's Institute for Infocomm Research and Paragon Shopping Mall to promote R&D collaborations and further develop technologies to raise retail productivity.

The second MOU was signed between A*Star's Science and Engineering Institutes and the Singapore Institute of Retail Studies (SIRS) to create a showcase that will feature technology for the retail sector.

A related survey - conducted by SIRS to understand technology adoption habits amongst local retailers - found that their top three priorities are the inclusion of point-of-sale technology, customer loyalty programmes and inventory management systems.

S Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry, who was present at the launch of TAP yesterday, said: "We are committed to working with our SMEs to adopt technology to enhance their competitive edge and productivity.

"However, we are also relying on the industry associations . . . and the SMEs themselves. We need this message to be spread so that more SMEs understand what is possible, what is available and take advantage of it."